GLOATING Taliban fighters have been pictured posing for snaps in abandoned fighter jets as satellite shots show the aircraft treasure trove left behind by the US in Kabul.
The grinning jihadis sat in the cockpits of gunships and rode on the bonnets of US Air Force Humvees as they strutted about the airport hours after Joe Biden's troops finally left Afghanistan.
Taliban Badri special force fighters were pictured training on the grounds of Kabul airportwhile other jihadis rummaged through hangars full of disgarded kit and abandoned helocppters.
In one picture a a fighter is seen taking pictures of the damaged Chinook choppers left behind while others exploring the inside of a US Air Force plane.
Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all
It comes as the Taliban's spokesman said the West's retreat from Afghanistan should serve as a "lesson for the world".
The group's chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, addressed the media this morning from Kabul airport.
"Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all," he said.
"It is a historical day and a historical moment. We are proud of these moments, that we liberated our country from a great power."
According to reports, the US is likely to have abandoned millions of dollars worth of military gear in the rush to leave Kabul.
Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, had claimed that some of that equipment had been “de-militarized – making them inoperable.
Meanwhile, Taliban fighters celebrated the US withdrawal by firing weapons and fireworks into the skies above Kabul on Monday – as the last American soldier was pictured leaving the country.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that the last plane had left the country on Monday night just before midnight local time, signalling the end of America's longest war.
Footage taken in Kabul shows Taliban members shooting celebratory gunfire into the air after watching the last US planes take off just before midnight local time.
Hours ahead of President Biden’s Tuesday deadline to leave, military planes carried the remaining contingent of troops from Kabul airport.
Thousands had been working tirelessly to try and evacuate Americans and Afghan refugees stranded in Kabul as the August 31 deadline loomed.
US Army Major General Chris Donahue, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, was pictured on a night-vision camera boarding a transport plane just before midnight on Monday.
The XVIII Airborne Corps called him the last soldier to leave Kabul.
Maj Gen Donahue, 52, is a two-star General with three decades of experience having served in South Korea and Panama as well as the Middle East and North Africa, according to a 2020 profile.
He is a West Point graduate who has been deployed 17 times – and described his role as "the most enjoyable, rewarding and best job" after taking over as commander of Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division in July last year.
The division – known as the Sky Dragons – is able to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours in its role as the United States' Immediate Response Force.
"In awe of our Sky Dragon Soldiers," the unit posted on Twitter.
"This was an incredibly tough, pressurized mission filled with multiple complexities, with active threats the entire time.
"Our troops displayed grit, discipline and empathy. Below is a picture of the last soldier to leave Afghanistan."
Gen. Frank McKenzie said the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. Washington time, or one minute before midnight in Kabul.
He acknowledged that some Americans – likely between 100 and 200 – were still in Afghanistan.
"I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans," he said.
"And the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan."
Gen. McKenzie said that he believes the Americans that were left behind will still be able to leave the country.
AMERICANS LEFT BEHIND
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would work with Afghanistan's neighbors to secure their departure either overland or by charter flight once the Kabul airport re-opens.
Blinken also noted that the US Embassy in Kabul will remain shuttered and vacant for the foreseeable future.
President Biden released a statement on Monday evening applauding US service members for facilitating the mass evacuation.
"The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in US history, evacuating over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States," he said.
"They have done it with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve. Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended."
He went on to say he will address the American public to discuss why he did not extend US presence in Afghanistan on Tuesday afternoon.
The closing hours of the US evacuation in Afghanistan saw American troops getting final evacuees onto planes while also getting themselves and some of their equipment out.
That came days after a suicide bomb killed 13 American service members and some 169 Afghans on Thursday.
The final pullout fulfilled Biden’s pledge to end what he called a “forever war” that began in response to the 9/11 attacks.
More than 1,100 troops from coalition countries and more than 100,000 Afghan forces and civilians died, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.
Biden's decision, announced in April, reflected a national weariness of the Afghanistan conflict.
In Biden’s view, the war could have ended 10 years ago with the US killing of Osama bin Laden.
The administration had planned to keep the US Embassy in Kabul open, protected by a force of about 650 US troops, including a contingent that would secure the airport along with partner countries.
Washington planned to give the now-defunct Afghan government billions more to prop up its army.
But the speed with which the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15 caught the Biden administration by surprise.
Chaotic scenes at the airport saw Afghan's attempting to cling to a C-17 transport plane as it sped down the runway.
Now the president faces condemnation at home and abroad for his handling of a final evacuation that unfolded in chaos.
In his Monday statement, Biden doubled down on his decision to withdraw all troops by the end of August.
"I will report that it was a unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all of our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned," the statement said.
'Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops, and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead."
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